In love with Boston’s North End

As a lifelong Chicagoan, I’d always felt this kind of connection to the city of Boston. The two cities share some similarities: both are known as hard-working; have diverse ethnic populations; and, among other things, are home to baseball teams with losing records of historic proportions (though the Boston team remedied that situation earlier this century). When I made my first trip to Boston back in 2010, the connection I’d always sensed was validated. I felt at home in Boston, especially in the North End, the city’s famous Italian neighborhood. I remember thinking at that time how much the North End reminded me of my neighborhood, Chicago’s Little Italy, when I was growing up. The Italian shops and restaurants gave me that warm, familiar feeling, but it was the people that made me nostalgic. There in the North End still lived Italian people and they could be heard speaking Italian on the street and in the shops. That was a thing of the past in my neighborhood. While the North End still retained much of its character and the Italian heritage had been preserved, sadly, the opposite had happened over the years in Chicago’s Little Italy. My neighborhood isn’t the same now as it was when I was growing up – and definitely not the same as when my parents were growing up there. For these reasons, my first few minutes in the North End in 2010 brought me to tears. We were walking down Hanover Street and the cutest old man was sitting out in front of one of the shops. As we passed, he offered a smile and a bright buon giorno. My heart melted from the nostalgia and my eyes welled up with tears. At that moment, I thought to myself, “I hope this place never changes.”

I’m fresh off my second visit to Boston, a trip during which I spent a considerable amount of time in the North End. I’m in no position to declare one way or another if the neighborhood has changed, but I can say that it’s as charming and lovely as the first time I visited. I was able to get an even better feel for the neighborhood this time around since I was staying at a Flipkey apartment in the middle of the North End. The optimal location allowed me easy access to the myriad shops, restaurants, and historic sites (the Freedom Trail runs through the North End). The real reason I chose to stay in the North End, though, was to have one more chance to remember what life was like for me growing up in my own Italian-American neighborhood.

Flipkey apartment rental in Boston's North End

Flipkey apartment in North End

I accomplished my goal and fell even more in love with the North End. I mean, there are two restaurants that have my kids’ names (Lucia and Anthony) and one is even named after me! But seriously, staying with Flipkey in the North End was the best thing I could have done during my trip to Boston. Not only did I eat well and get my “old neighborhood” fix, I also was well-positioned to easily explore other parts of Boston. I walked to and from places like Beacon Hill and the Public Garden. The Haymarket “T” stop is only a few minutes away by foot, so I had no problem taking the subway to Cambridge and Logan Airport. It’s also worth mentioning that I stayed in the North End by myself – no friends, no family. I felt completely safe walking all over during the day and when I went out at night to other areas of the city, I used Uber to get back and forth.

Italian restaurants | North End, Boston

I didn’t get a picture of Anthony’s

I’m kind of getting used to this solo travel thing and I had the best time on my own in Boston. I’m grateful for the one-on-one time I got to spend with the North End and, I didn’t think it was possible, I am even more in love with it now.

My apartment stay was sponsored by Flipkey but the North End wooed me all on its own.

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8 Responses to In love with Boston’s North End

  1. The World Wanderer April 8, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    Solo travel must be nice as a mom – a real getaway! (and well-deserved!) I fell in love with Boston, especially this area way back in elementary school during a trip with my family. It was then that I declared I would be going to Boston College and living in Boston as an interior decorator. That worked out well… 😉
    The World Wanderer recently posted…Starting Your Own Travel Blog.My Profile

  2. Leah April 9, 2015 at 2:07 am #

    I’ve only been to Boston a hand full of times, but I really enjoyed the North End, especially the cannolli. Is that a reason to love a neighborhood? I think it’s as good as any. And cute apartment. As a new Parisianne, I can appreciate the great use of space. 🙂
    Leah recently posted…Find Your FranceMy Profile

  3. Jennifer Martin (Vino Travels) April 9, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    I agree the two cities are very similar. I visited Chicago a couple years ago for the first time, but we didnt make it over to the Italian section because it was night time and where we were coming from heard it wasn’t the greatest area to make our way to. Boston’s North End has considerably changed as well over the years. Every time I go in there are new businesses and many yuppies have moved in there, but you will still catch some of the older folks there chatting in Italian and I love that too! I wish I got to see what it was like when my grandfather grew up there. Wish we could bring those days back.

  4. Traveling Ted April 13, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

    North End sounds cool. Thanks for the tip. I will be there in a month.
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  5. lola April 14, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    The North End is so FAB. It has only gotten better and better now that it is more connected to the city after the completion of the Big Dig. I love it there too. BUT the best part about your visit, for me, was seeing YOU!!!
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    • Francesca April 14, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

      Awww, Lola! Seeing you definitely was a highlight of the trip for me, too! Let’s do it again soon! xo

  6. Lance | Trips By Lance April 21, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

    Last time I was up there years ago the Big Dig kept things separated a bit more. I loved the neighborhood. This looks like a nice apartment. I’m excited about trying FlipKey for the first time next month in L.A.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted…Baseball Opening Day Signals Summer TravelMy Profile

  7. Kath June 30, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    Love the North End. We are fortunate to have relatives that live there, right along the Freedom Trail, and were able to attend twice during the big Saint Anthony’s feast in August. My uncle prepared food for days, and fed 200 people as they paraded by! Great family memories (for my son it was mostly eating a cannoli several times a day from Mike’s Pastry Shop).
    Kath recently posted…5 Reasons to Head out on an Urban Adventure Tour in PhiladelphiaMy Profile

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